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People Along the Mississippi

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People Along the Mississippi


Published 1952


As far as we have been able to determine, this film is the first nationally distributed educational film to embrace the interaction of races and cultures in the United States. Ostensibly a child's film, it's the story of a boy in Minnesota who builds a toy boat and sends it on a journey southward along the Mississippi River. Meandering through scenery beautifully photographed by Barnes, the boat serves as a metaphor for the integration of the American cultures; the boat is found by a Chippewa boy who sends it along its way now accompanied by a small totem pole, it sails along farmlands settled by Swedes, and in the most poignant moment of the film, falls into the hands of a young African-American boy in the deep south. He shows it to his white erstwhile playmate, who has grown to the stage of avoiding playing with blacks. They are brought together again through this new mutual interest, an event which, one imagines, must have prompted thousands of classroom discussions about the nature of race relations. The strengths of the film are in the mythic story line, the photography, and the inherent historical interest of a film which was the first to have made a statement which even now is powerful and important.


Run time 20:00
Producer Gordon Weisenborn
Production Company Permission to display this film was granted by Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
Sponsor Judith Barnes
Audio/Visual sound, b&w

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